Latvian Higher League
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Latvian Higher League or Virslīga is a professional football league and the top tier of association football in Latvia. Organised by the Latvian Football Federation, the Higher League is contested by 10 clubs. The full name of the league is Optibet Virslīga for sponsorship reasons since 2019.
|Number of teams||10|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Latvijas 1. līga|
|Domestic cup(s)||Latvian Cup|
|International cup(s)||Champions League|
Europa Conference League
|Current champions||Riga FC |
|Most championships||Skonto (15)|
|2020 Latvian Higher League|
History and League formatEdit
The first all-national championship was organized in 1927. Between 1945 and 1991 the championship of Soviet Latvia was a feature of the country's sporting calendar. With Latvia regaining independence in August 1991, the newly established Latvian Football Federation (Latvijas Futbola Federācija – LFF) decided to reorganise its competitions within the Virslīga from 1992. In 2008 The same year Latvia became a member of UEFA. After the 2007 season the league increased from eight to ten sides. In 2008 each side played the others four times.
At the end of the season, the lowest placed team are automatically relegated into 1. liga, and the winner of the 1. liga automatically takes their place. The second lowest placed team in Virslīga and the second team of 1. liga play two matches for a place in the Virslīga the following season. The winner of Virslīga, the champion of Latvia, plays in the UEFA Champions League qualifying round. The second and third placed clubs play in the UEFA Europa League qualifying games.
From 2015 till 2018 there were eight participating clubs. This was increased to nine for the 2019 season and ten for the 2020 season.
Sponsorships and name changesEdit
The League has changed sponsors for several times. From 2005 until 2010 it was known as the LMT Virslīga. No sponsorships were established for the 2011 season. Starting from the 2012 season, the league was reorganised in partnership with an NGO as "Latvijas Futbola virslīga", adopting the NGO's name in the 2012 season. From 2013 to 2015, the league was known as the SMScredit.lv Virslīga due to a contract with the online microfinance company SMScredit. In March 2016, it was announced that the Virslīga would be sponsored by SynotTip Sports Bar on a three-year contract. They were succeeded by betting firm Optibet on a two-year contract, beginning with the 2019 season.
|First season in
|First season of
current spell in
|Last Virslīga |
|Metta / LU||7th||2012||8||2012||0||n/a|
a: Pirmā līga winner
Titles by yearEdit
Riga Football LeagueEdit
Latvian Championship 1922–1940 (independent)Edit
In occupied Latvia (1941–1990)Edit
Since 1991 (restored Latvian league)Edit
Notable managers and playersEdit
This is a list of clubs, in order of most titles won in championships in independent Latvia (1922-1940 and 1991 to date). Teams in bold are part of 2020 Virslīga.
|Club||No. of Titles||Years won|
|Skonto Riga||15||1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010|
|RFK Riga||8||1924, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1935, 1940|
|Olimpija Liepāja||7||1927, 1928, 1929, 1933, 1936, 1938, 1939|
|Ventspils||6||2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014|
|Liepājas Metalurgs||2||2005, 2009|
|Kaiserwald Riga||2||1922, 1923|
|JPFS/Spartaks Jūrmala||2||2016, 2017|
|Riga FC||2||2018, 2019|
|Riga||30||Skonto (15), RFK (8), Kaiserwald (2), Spartaks (2), Riga (2), ASK (1)|
|Kurzeme||16||Olimpija (7), Ventspils (6), Metalurgs (2), Liepāja (1)|
|City / Town||Championships||Clubs|
|Riga||28||Skonto (15), RFK (8), Kaiserwald (2), Riga (2), ASK (1)|
|Liepāja||10||Olimpija (7), Metalurgs (2), Liepāja (1)|
The most well-known rivalry is the Kurzeme Derby (Kurzemes derbijs) between Ventspils and Liepāja.[circular reference] The two biggest clubs in Kurzeme have played 86 matches between themselves with a record of 31–28–27 (including Metalurgs) in favor of Liepāja prior to the 2019 Virslīga.
Since 2016, the Riga Derby (Rīgas derbijs) was started between Riga FC and Rīgas FS as two clubs were promoted at the same time. A 2019 match in Skonto Stadium between the two sides broke a ten-year attendance record.
Virslīga clubs in international competitionsEdit
Skonto reached the UEFA Champions League last qualifying stage for a number of times in the late 1990s and eaarly 2000s, but lost to such teams like FC Barcelona[circular reference], Internazionale FC[circular reference] and Chelsea FC.[circular reference]
Runners-up (1): 2007.
Champions (1): 2007.
Champions (1): 2010.
Champions (1): 2011.
Runners-up (1): 2008.
Individual records (since 1992)Edit
Most matches playedEdit
Last updated: 12 November 2019.
Most goals scoredEdit
Last updated: 12 November 2019.
- "Latvia". UEFA. All rights reserved. 3 September 2018.
- Mike Dryomin (14 March 2008). "Latvia 2007". RSSSF. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Hartmanis, Martins (2007-12-01). "LMT Virslīga new season calendar published". Latvian Football Federation. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "Ziemas kauss futbolā vairs nenotiks, to aizstās Virslīgas kausa izcīņa". LA.lv (in Latvian). 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
- "Sacensību sistēmas modeļa apstiprināšana". lff.lv (in Latvian).
- "About Virslīga". Biedrība Latvijas Futbola Virslīga. Futbolavirsliga.lv. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013. (in Latvian)
- "Latvijas futbola virslīgai nākamajā sezonā būs jauns ģenerālsponsors". Public Broadcasting of Latvia (in Latvian). 2018-10-17. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
- "Virslīga ar "SynotTip" noslēdz vērienīgāko līgumu līgas vēsturē" (in Latvian). Sportacentrs.com. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- "Becomes main sponsor of Latvian football league". Enlabs AB. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
- "Optibet Virslīga". Latvian Football Federation (in Latvian). Retrieved 2019-03-18.
- "Summary - Virsliga - Latvia - Results, fixtures, tables and news". Soccerway. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
- Almantas Lauzadis and Hans Schöggl (23 March 2017). "Latvia - List of Champions". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- "Kurzeme derby".
- "Futbola virslīgā tiks aizvadīts Kurzemes derbijs". TVNET (in Latvian). 2019-06-20.
- Suveizda, Agris (2019-06-02). "Rīgas derbijs labo Virslīgas desmitgades apmeklētības rekordu". SportaCentrs.com (in Latvian).
- "Europa League group stage".
- "1997–98 UEFA Champions League".
- "1998–99 UEFA Champions League".
- "1999–2000 UEFA Champions League".